Oprah’s new network, OWN, has been on the airwaves for only 72 hours, and I think I’ve watched about 60 of those. That has much more to do with the lack of post-holiday primetime programming or my lack of interest in clearing my DVR than any groundbreaking television from Oprah. But I did catch the new episode of Master Class with Diane Sawyer. She’s my new hero.
I’ve never really followed Diane Sawyer, but I’ve felt a kinship with her through journalism. I admire strong, intelligent women who are well-spoken and accomplished in their careers. Plus, she always seems so polished, genuine and nice. I also really enjoyed her series on Appalachia a few years ago. You can see in that how real she is and how much she legitimately likes and cares about people. She has a zest for life, humor, curiosity about the world and love of words that I identify with but also envy.
I learned a few years ago that she worked in the Nixon White House as a fact-checker and left with him when he resigned to help with his memoirs. (She was featured as a character in the movie Frost/Nixon, but she didn’t actually attend those interview tapings.) I’m a bit of a Watergate buff, so I was fascinated to hear what she would say about those years, and about him. She talked about that time in her usual eloquent and diplomatic way, addressing it but never gossiping or betraying insider information about Nixon. You know she knows some juicy stuff, so I just hope she’s saving it for her eventual book. Or maybe she’s just too gracious for a tell-all.
Master Class has an interesting format — it’s not a straight biographical profile, and it’s filmed more as a soliloquy where the subject speaks directly to the camera. I think that makes it all the more compelling. There are upcoming episodes with Sidney Poitier (I just like repeatedly saying his name out loud), Jay-Z, Condoleeza Rice, Simon Cowell and Maya Angelou, in case you’re interested.
At the end of the show, I was struck by the counsel Diane Sawyer’s father gave her on what to do with her life. He told her she should always:
- Do what you love, so much that you would do it anyway.
- Do it in the most adventurous place possible.
- Do what helps other people.
That’s great advice, which she certainly followed. I can’t say that about my current career choices, though — can you? How can we change that?